County, schools, municipalities anticipate power line windfalls

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Washington County will receive the lion’s share of the money from a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Champlain Hudson Power Express project developers. (Photo by Jared Stamm)
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Washington County communities will reap what officials say will be needed financial windfalls – most totaling in the millions of dollars – from the Champlain Hudson Power Express when the power line begins operation in 2026.

While Washington County itself will receive the lion’s share of the money from a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the project developers – estimated at more than $37 million over the 30-year life of the agreement – towns, villages and school districts along the path of the 339-mile power line will receive payments ranging from $152,000 to nearly $25 million. The taxing entities will also receive payments under host community agreements that will add to those totals.

The payments are expected to begin in 2025, local officials said.

The biggest beneficiary among the towns, villages and schools will be the Whitehall Central School District, which will receive combined payments of roughly $750,000 the first year – a figure that will grow to about $2 million in the 30th and final year of the agreement, according to district superintendent Patrick Dee. Those figures include $511,000 in PILOT monies the first year and more than $1.27 million in the final year.

The funds going to the school district represent 19.65% of the total PILOT payments in the county.

Half of the additional funds will be applied to the tax levy, Dee said. The remainder will go toward capital improvements and programming, he said.

The funds represent “a wonderful opportunity for the community,” Dee said.

The village and the town of Whitehall will also benefit substantially from the PILOT and the host community agreements.

The village will receive a total of more than $7.5 million over the term of PILOT agreement, beginning with $154,740 the first year, rising to $384,950 in the final year.

At least some of the money will be used for infrastructure projects, including a state-mandated upgrade to the village’s sewer plant, said Mayor Julie Eagan.

The village is under an order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to modernize its wastewater treatment facility, Eagan said. The village has received grants and taken out loans to finance the $1.2 million project, and Eagan said she hopes the PILOT funds will be available by the time they need to be repaid.

The funds will “allow us to wrap that up,” she said.

Village firefighters have already approached the Village Board for funding to pay for an upgrade of their training center, she noted.

The town will put together a capital projects plan for its use of the $4.35 million it will receive through the PILOT agreement, supervisor John Rozell said.

The money the town receives because of the power line project will also be applied to the tax levy, he added.

Overall, the town, village and school district will cumulatively receive about $62 million through the PILOT and community host payments, Rozell said.

Eagan noted that the money flowing to the municipalities will not be the only benefit the area will receive because of the project. An estimated 300 jobs will be created locally because of the construction, she said.

“It’s going to be a big boost to the local economy,” Eagan said. “It’s exciting that something this big is coming to Whitehall.”

The Town of Dresden, which is slated to receive a total of $3.27 million through the PILOT program, plans to use its money for a variety of infrastructure projects, including upgrades to the highway barn and firehouse.

“Dresden ought to become a pretty, pretty place” thanks to the windfall, said supervisor Paul Ferguson.

The other taxing entities that will benefit from the project include the towns of Putnam ($2.75 million in PILOT funds), Hartford ($152,000), Fort Ann ($1.85 million), Fort Edward $1.33 million) and Kingsbury ($$2.6 million); the villages of Fort Ann ($215,453) and Fort Edward ($2.32 million); and the school districts in Fort Ann ($14.54 million), Hudson Falls ($11.55 million) and Fort Edward ($6.39 million).

In total, the PILOT agreement will pour $126.74 million into the Washington County economy over 30 years.